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The Ember

Author: Shadewing
Status: Under Construction
Allegiances: Burning Scarlet Series/Allegiances Not started yet.
Preceding: None
Succeeding: The Spark
Spellcheckers: None
Icewing has proven herself a worthy warrior of AshClan in the battle against NightClan. But now, a secret involving the Clan's medicine cat and another warrior will take Icewing on a new journey. Other dangers await her too, as more battles unfold...

PrologueEdit

Back in the past.... Redstripe felt a shiver run through her pelt as a cold wind blew through the nursery. Beside her, her kits cried with hunger, their squeaky mews growing louder and louder as the night went on.

Redstripe had had the kits one moon ago, and for a while she had been able to care for them. But then leafbare had settled in, and her milk had run out. And now, her four kits, along with the rest of AshClan, went hungry as the air grew colder.

Redstripe nudged her kits closer to her, shielding them from the freezing wind. They continued to cry as their tiny bodies rested against her own, pushing their noses into her gingery fur.

What will Jaystar say, she thought, if I wake up and all four of them are dead? At this rate, they will. What should I do?

Redstripe thought hard. Suddenly, an idea came into her head. She sat up.

"I will take them to twolegplace," she muttered, gently pushing all four kits to their paws. Their cries had ceased, and now they simply leaned on her legs for support.

Redstripe pushed through the nursery entrance, her four kits trailing behind. She padded silently through the camp, careful not to make a sound. When she reached the barrier, she stopped, waiting for her kits to catch up. When they had, she pushed through the entrance and out into the forest.

Here, the snow was up to her haunches. Redstripe knew she must carry the kits, one by one, to twolegplace. They were too small to withstand the journey by themselves.

Carefully, Redstripe dug a large hole in the snow and placed her kits in it. The curled up next to eachother, trying to stay warm. Redstripe gently took Icekit, a small black and white she-cat, into her teeth, then, leaving the other three, she began to trudge through the snow.

The snow was freezing, and Redstripe struggled not to let go of Icekit as she tripped and staggered through it. Soon, she reached Mossy Oaks, and she knew she was getting close.

"Hold on Icekit," she muttered through her teeth to the shivering kit.

Suddenly, her paws hit a rock and she fell, headfirst, into the snow. Redstripe thrashed in it for a minute before struggling to her paws. She looked down at Icekit, who was barely breathing. She plunged her head in and pulled the tiny bundle out, then continued on, her fur soaked. When she had reached the border, she could just make out the lights of a twoleg home. Pushing through the snow, Redstripe began to move toward it. Finally, after climbing through a snow drift, she reached the twolegs door.

Redstripe set Icekit, who still clung to life, down on the ground, then gave a loud yowl.

Footsteps approached from inside the den, and Redstripe knew she would have to leave. Bending down, she licking Icekit once, muttering:

"Be safe, my kit."

As she was walking away, she heard the door open, and, looking back, saw an elderly twoleg pick up Icekit and carry her into the den.

Relief and joy flowed through Redstripe's freezing pelt as she padded away. Suddenly, she collapsed into the snow, unable to continue.

Redstripe looked up at the sky. She wanted her last sight to be the stars.

Ember: 1 Edit

Back in the present time...

Icewing sighed as she wearily dropped her prey on the fresh-kill pile. Her legs were weak beneath her, barely keeping her up as she padded toward the warriors den.

It had been a moon since the battle, and even though she had proven her loyalty many times, the other warriors were unwilling to trust her, especially Stormfang. The only cats who showed her any kindness were Tigerwind, Jaystar, and Runningflight. Mistflower, a blue-gray she-cat, had actually growled at her when she had approached the nursery to see Featherfrost's newborn kits, saying she would "poison their minds." Tawnyleaf ha d come to Icewing's aid, but only because the kits were around.

Icewing lay in her nest, weighed down with the growing feeling that she shouldn't have come here. She laid her head on her paws, thoughts of her old Twoleg home filling her mind. Somehow, however, that brought her even more sadness.

I can't go back. Not now. I belong here, and I'm going to stay here no matter what! she thought angrily, sitting up. I don't care how many battles I have to fight! I will prove to them I can be trusted!

Suddenly, a cat appeared beside her. Longwhisker.

"What do you want?" Icewing felt her neck fur rise. "If you've come to make fun of me some more, then you can forget it," she hissed angrily.

Longwhisker didn't answer, but simply stared at her, his eyes glowing with amusement.

"Icewing! I hope you're not planning to attack him, or I'll flay your pelt in strips!" a snarl sounded in Icewing's ear as Stormfang entered. His huge tabby body cast a shadow as he towered over her.

After some effort, Icewing relaxed, her fur falling flat. She faced Stormfang, anger rising inside her.

"My claws would tear your pelt before you ever touched mine," she snapped. She wasn't scared of this cat!

"Good luck with that," Longwhisker said as he curled into his nest.

Stormfang unsheathed his claws, shaking slightly as they continued to stare at eachother.

"You shoud learn to hold your tongue, Scarlet, or I'll rip it right out of your throat!"

Icewing prepared for him to strike when another cat stepped in between them. Runningflight. His eyes burnt with a strange fire, not angry, but forceful.

"Stormfang! Icewing! You should know better! Stop this fighting now!" he meowed sternly. He turned his eyes onto Icewing, who dropped her own to the ground, unable to hold his fierce gaze. For a moment they sat, frozen, until Stormfang shoved past and laid down in his nest. Icewing hesitated before doing the same. Runningflight joined her shortly after, his sandy coat lit dimly by the moonlight.

"Ignore them, Icewing," he whispered as the warriors filed in. "They'll see."

As she slowly drifted off, Icewing wished she could say the same.

Sometime later, before sunhigh, Icewing woke to find the den still surrounded by darkness. All of the warriors were still asleep, their chests rising and falling gently. Stretching, Icewing got up and padded out into the camp. The moonlight did little to penetrate the shadows, but Icewing found it quite easy to find her way to the barrier and out into the forest. Once she reached the stream, Icewing stopped and sat down, the sound of rushing water filling her ears, soothing her.

"I wish I had never joined this Clan. I wish none of this had happened," she murmured.

"Do you?" a voice asked from behind. Icewing turned around to find a strange, bright ginger tom with piercing green eyes and starry fur standing next to a tree. Muscles rippled in his legs as he padded toward her.

"Greetings, Icewing. My name is Firestar. I am from StarClan," his voice was deep and calm.

"Wh-what do you want?" Icewing stammered, backing away as he approached.

"I was sent to talk to you," he said simply as he sat down next to her.

"Why would StarClan want to talk with me?" she asked.

"The same reason they wanted to talk with me. You belong in AshClan, Icewing, and you know it."

"But, I'm not even Clanborn!"

At her words Firestar stiffened, his eyes widening slightly. Icewing peered curiously at him, confused. Then, he relaxed and spoke.

"I wasn't either. I was a kittypet once too."

"Really?"

He nodded.

"I felt the same way for a little while, then I realized that I wasn't doing myself any good. The only way I would be able to prove my loyalty is to keep believing that I belonged in the Clan."

Icewing thought hard, trying to make sense of what he had just said. Finally, she understood.

"So...I really do belong in the Clan?" she asked.

"You must find that out for yourself." Icewing saw that he had begun to fade.

"Wait, stop!" she cried, but he was already gone. Icewing stood there, alone. The sun had begun to rise, sending faint pink streaks across the sky. She stared up at them.

I guess I'll just have to do what he says. I hope it works. she thought before falling to the ground, weariness overtaking her.

Ember: 2 Edit

"Icewing? Icewing!" a mew shook Icewing awake. She opened her eyes to find the sun lighting the forest. Standing over her was Tigerwind, his eyes wide with fear.

"Wh-what?" she asked sleepily, getting to her paws.

"I was so worried! I thought you'd run away!" he cried, rubbing against her.

"No, no, I just...took a walk." She decided it was best to keep her talk with Firestar secret for now. "Sorry, I guess I fell asleep."

A purr rumbled deep within his throat. Icewing stretched, gave her paws a quick wash, then they headed back to camp. As soon as she walked in the barrier there was an instant uproar.

"Decided to come back, kittypet?" Stormfang snarled, Longwhisker behind him. But for once, Longwhisker remained silent, only nodding his head at her. Icewing stared at him, confused by his peculiar behavior, before pushing past. Runningflight came running up to her, Jaystar at his side.

"Glad to see you're safe, Icewing," Runningflight mewed.

"Where were you?" Jaystar asked, his amber eyes giving her the impression he was staring straight through her. Turning her gaze to the ground, Icewing backed up a step.

"I couldn't sleep, so I decided to go for a walk," she explained.

"Ha! Like any of us will believe that!" Stormfang called. "Tell the truth! You were trying to leave!"

Icewing faced the tom calmly, energy flowing through her.

"I'll be willing to fight you, Stormfang, and win again!" she said firmly.

The tom's eyes glittered with amusement.

"Beat me? Beat me? Don't kid yourself, kittypet! You could never beat me! Last time was pure luck, that's all!"

Jaystar stepped forward. Icewing had never realized how enormous he was. He towered over Stormfang, his eyes blazing.

"That's enough! You've caused quite enough trouble, Stormfang! As one of my senior warriors, you should know better!"

That stopped the warrior short. He backed away, shrinking beneath Jaystar's gaze. After a moment of uncomfortable silence, he stood up to his full height.

"My apologies, Jaystar," he meowed quietly. Shooting Icewing one last menacing glare, he turned and pushed through the barrier, Eagleflame, a dark tabby tom, and Birchpelt following. Jaystar watched him go before disapearing into his den, Tawnyleaf right behind him. Icewing and the rest of the warriors were left in the clearing, all gazing at one another. One by one, all of them but Longwhisker left. Turning towards her, the tom locked eyes with Icewing, boring his into hers. Icewing felt a strange, unknown feeling rise in her chest. What was wrong with Longwhisker?

Finally, the tom shook his head fiercely then padded away. Beside her, Tigerwind appeared, staring after him.

"What's up with him?" he asked.

Icewing shrugged and turned toward the fresh-kill pile, suddenly realizing how hungry she was. Choosing a thrush, she settled down beneath the Skyrock. Tigerwind, dropping a mouse, joined her.

"Dapplefur was talking about you, right before I left to find you," he told her, licking his paw.

"Really? What'd she say?" Icewing asked.

"I couldn't really tell. She was sort of muttering. I think it was something about StarClan and dreams. But I did hear your name."

Icewing thought.

Me, in a dream from StarClan? No, Tigerwind must've been mistaken. There's no way...

Suddenly, Tigerwind's story of Dapplefur's lost kit entered her mind.

"Hey, Tigerwind, isn't the Gathering tomorrow?" she asked, trying to keep her voice casual.

He looked over at her.

"Yeah, why? I thought you didn't like the last one."

That was true. Icewing had found the noise of all the cats unbearable.

"Just asking."

"Alright, something's on your mind. What, did you get friendly with some tom from MistClan or something?"

She took a playful swat at his ear, irritation spiking in her pelt.

"No! I was just..."

"What?" he asked, leaning in. "Come on, just tell me."

Icewing swallowed.

"Okay, then. I wanted to find out more about Dapplefur's lost kit," she admitted.

"Why?"

"I don't know, I just do."

His eyes suddenly glittered mischievously.

"I can help you, then," he whispered. "I know cats from MistClan. You might be able to get something out of them."

"You'll really help me?" she asked in amazement.

"Of course! I kind have been wanting to ask them myself."

Icewing rubbed against him, purring.

"Thanks, Tigerwind."

"Thank me later when we don't get caught. We'll have to be careful. Not many Clans like sharing information like that, but I think we'll be able to find some stuff out."

Icewing couldn't wait for the Gathering tonight.

Ember: 3 Edit

"Why is this always so noisy?" Icewing grumbled to Tigerwind as they sat down beneath the Great Tree. They were at the Gathering, and the voices of cats filled Icewing's ear.

Tigerwind ran his tail down her back.

"Calm down," he said soothingly. "Soon, you won't even be focused on the noise. As soon as the leaders start talking, we move. The cats we're looking for are right there," he flicked his tail at a group of slender warriors.

Icewing gulped. This wouldn't be easy. Dapplefur, who sat close by, didn't take her eyes away from them, watching them closely with her piercing gaze.

Finally, Jaystar stepped forward, the moonlight bouncing off his smooth black pelt. He opened his mouth and yowled out a greeting.

"Let's go," Tigerwind muttered, nudging her. Thankfully, Dapplefur had turned toward her leader, and was now listening intently to him. Quietly, they slipped past their Clanmates and headed towards the MistClan warriors. When they had reached them, one, a silver tabby tom, turned and greeted them.

"Greetings, Tigerwind!" he mewed brightly, his blue eyes shining.

Tigerwind dipped his head before replying.

"Good to see you, Blizzardfoot," he whispered. "May we speak with you...alone?"

A puzzled look crossed Blizzardfoot's face but he didn't object as he followed them away, questioning mews from his companions echoing behind. Once they had gotten away from the other cats, they stopped and sat down.

"Blizzardfoot, this is Icewing," Tigerwind said. Icewing dipped her head but did not say anything.

"What do you need to talk to me about?" Blizzardfoot asked.

Tigerwind hesitated before speaking.

"Icewing...wishes to...ask you something...about Dapplefur," he mewed anxiously.

Blizzardfoot's eyes widened, the brightness in them turning to shadow. He stepped closer.

"What about her?" he meowed warily.

"Her...mate, you know, the one who got killed in battle."

Blizzardfoot paused, thinking, before speaking again.

"Wait here," he instructed before turning away and padding off.

Icewing looked nervously over at Tigerwind.

"Where is he going?" she asked.

"Probably to get an older warrior or elder, who will know more. Blizzardfoot and I weren't even alive when Dapplefur's mate was. I was the first kit she delivered when she got back."

At that moment, Blizzardfoot reappeared, followed by a thin but muscular black she-cat with green eyes.

"This," Blizzardfoot mewed, "is Nightfreeze, Snowheart's sister."

Nightfreeze looked to them. Her face was contorted with ferocity.

"Why do you wish to speak with me of my brother?" she hissed.

Tigerwind opened his mouth, but Icewing stepped in front of him.

"I-I just want to know the truth," she stammered, facing Nightfreeze.

There was a pause, filled only with the sounds of cats preparing to leave. Nightfreeze thought a moment, her eyes on the ground, before quickly turning back to the two.

"Come to the MistClan border tomorrow, at moonhigh. I do not know why I am allowing this, but I will tell you. For...for Snowheart. I think it is time the truth was known," she mewed hastily. "Come, quickly! Your Clan will be looking for you if you do not hurry!"

And with that, she raced away. Icewing and Tigerwind hurriedly trailed after her. The Clans had begun to file out. Icewing quickly spotted Stormfang and Longwhisker and the two raced over.

Longwhisker nudged her as she stopped beside him.

"Where were you?" he whispered.

"Long story," Icewing replied.

I will go tomorrow. Alone. If Tigerwind gets in trouble, it'll be my fault.

It looked like the truth would soon be uncovered.

Ember: 4 Edit

Icewing couldn't concentrate.

It was sunhigh, and she was leading the patrol, but her mind was elsewhere. Thoughts of Nightfreeze and Blizzardfoot kept entering her mind.

Will Nightfreeze keep her word? Will she show up? she wondered as she sniffed the MistCla border. Beside her, Longwhisker also did the same. For a moment, their eyes met, and Icewing felt an uncomfortable heat rise in her chest. It disapeared, however, when he lifted his head and turned towards Eagleflame.

"Nothing," he mewed. Eagleflame nodded and they raced to the NightClan border, only to find slaughtered prey thrown everywhere.

"Again? NightClan's going to pay for this one!" Icewing hissed, anger flaring inside her.

Eagleflame stepped forward and sniffed at the prey.

"This scent is not very old. They must have done it right after the sunrise patrol left," he said.

"We'd better get back and report this. It can't go on any longer," Longwhisker meowed, turning around to head back. Icewing and Eagleflame followed him until they reached camp. As soon as Icewing pushed through the barrier, she lifted her head and yowled:

"NightClan have stolen prey again! We found it all over the border, and the scent was quite new!"

Instantly, cats swarmed in the clearing.

"Really?" Bluepaw, Tawnyleaf's apprentice, asked.

"We must go to battle!" Mistflower declared.

"This certainly can't go on!" Dapplefur agreed.

"Silence!" a voice yowled from the Skyrock. Jaystar. Tawnyleaf stood behind him.

"We will discuss what to do about this as a Clan! Icewing, please explain what happened."

Icewing nervously recalled finding the slaughtered prey, and the fresh scent. Once she sat back down, Jaystar spoke once more.

"We must prepare to invade NightClan's territory! It's time they were taught a lesson!"

The cats cheered. Icewing felt fear rise inside her pelt.

Should we really invade their camp? If they have so many warriors, then wouldn't be unwise? she thought as she headed for the fresh-kill pile. Before she could get there, however, a voice stopped her.

"Icewing?" It was Longwhisker.

"What is it?" Icewing asked, turning to face him. His eyes were on the ground.

"Could I...talk to you for a moment?"

She nodded and followed him through the barrier into the forest. Once they were far enough away, he stopped and faced her.

"What do you need?" Icewing mewed.

He took a deep breath, then answered.

"I-I just wanted to say I'm sorry. About everything."

Icewing was shocked. He was apologizing?

"It's okay," she whispered. "Is that all?"

"No."

What else does he want? she thought impatiently.

"Icewing," he began nervously. "Icewing, I...I can't hide it anymore."

"Hide what?" she asked warily.

"Icewing, I love you."

The words echoed in her mind. Icewing felt the ground lurch beneath her. All her impatience faded as she looked at him, his head bent low. That same warmth crept up inside her, but now it felt right. She pressed against him.

"I love you too, Longwhisker."

Wait, what? Do I really love this cat? a voice sounded in her head. She pushed it away. Yes. I think I did all along. I just never realized.

A purr rumbled in Longwhisker's throat. He licked the top of her head.

Icewing had forgotten all her worries. Right now, she wanted this moment to last forever.

But as she was walking back to camp, a thought stopped her. She froze.

What would Tigerwind say?

Ember: 5Edit

"Nightfreeze? Are you there?" Icewing whispered.

She was on the MistClan border, waiting for the she-cat.

What if she was lying? What if she brings a battle patrol instead? she thought as she searched.

Suddenly, a pair of green eyes met her own, holding her gaze. A soft purr sounded from the shadows.

"You can relax, Icewing. I'm not here to hurt you," Nightfreeze mewed as she stepped out, moonlight bouncing off her sleek fur. She silently padded over and sat down in front of Icewing.

"Now would you like to hear the story of my brother and Dapplefur?" she asked, sadness creeping into her voice. "It is not a happy one."

"I just want the truth," Icewing repeated. Nightfreeze paused before beginning.

"This happened many moons ago, before you were even born. It was greenleaf, a very plentiful one. The river was full of fish, and the rocks were warm. Snowheart and I were young then, young and foolish. He met Dapplefur at a Gathering, and they began to meet in secret. I was the first to notice. He was always tired and moved slower. I confronted him, but he did not listen. He was too caught up in his life with that mouse-brained she-cat," she let out a soft growl before continuing. "However, soon there were fights over the border. Our leader, Mousestar, wanted more territory. So, we launched an attack. There was a huge battle, and Snowheart was killed by Stormfang."

Icewing drew in a breath as an image of the huge tom entered her mind.

"Dapplefur was distraught. Soon, everyone in her Clan found out, and they cast her out. She wandered around for a little while, then one day she showed up on the border, half-starved and expecting kits. We took her in, and she had one. It's name...was Rushkit."

"Ruskit?"

Nightfreeze ignored her.

"Dapplefur was lonely. No one in my Clan trusted her except me. I was a fool. I tried to comfort her and help her raise her kit, and soon we became good friends. But even with a friend, Dapplefur missed the forest. Her paws weren't suited to the rocks, and she wasn't fond of the fish. One night, she vanished, taking the kit with her. But I went to her Clan, a few days later, at moonhigh and met up with her. She told me how she was the medicine cat now, and that the kit had been snuck in and a queen now secretly nursed it. The queen's name was Featherfrost, I think. Dapplefur was upset, too. She told me how no one in her Clan trusted her. I grew angry. I said that she had betrayed me. Then I left. I left her standing there in the rain. And I didn't look back."

Icewing sat, stunned, in silence.

She did had a kit. I wonder, though, if it's still alive.

"Nightfreeze," she began slowly, choosing her words carefully. "Nightfreeze, is Rushkit still alive?"

Nightfreeze nodded.

"He has a new name."

Icewing braced herself for the next words.

"Longwhisker."

Chapter 6 Edit

The world spun around Icewing.

"L-Longwhisker?" she squeaked. Shock rippled through her pelt.

"You're a friend of his then?" Nightfreeze mewed calmly.

"Of course! Of course, I'm his-" she cut herself off. Should she reveal that she was his mate? What if Nightfreeze told Dapplefur?

"Mate?" Nightfreeze asked, a hint of amusement in her tone.

Icewing nodded.

"You have chosen well, then. He is a fine young cat."

"And you, Nightfreeze, have most certainly not," a voice growled from behind Icewing. She turned around, not wanting to believe it.

There, her flecked pelt shining in the moonlight, was Dapplefur. She turned her fierce eyes on Icewing, her face laced with anger.

"How dare you? How did you even know in the first place that I had a son? Or a mate?" she hissed.

"Uh..." Icewing didn't want to get Tigerwind in trouble.

"And now, I find out that my son, my only son, is in love with you?" Dapplefur pressed, her voice rising with every word.

Icewing nodded nervously. The she-cat towered over her, bristling now.

"You're not the only one with secrets, kittypet. Jaystar has one too."

A deadly pause settled before she spoke again.

"Jaystar, that mouse-brain, is your father!"

Icewing nearly collapsed with shock and confusion.

"Hold on, I'm not done!" Dapplefur's expression was slightly mad now. "Redstripe, his mate, had you last leafbare! But then, prey ran short, and she delivered you to a twoleg, while your other siblings were left to freeze! Redstripe got what she deserved, dying in the snow! A fitting ending for a traitor like her! But you survived! I had hoped you hadn't, so that Jaystar would rot away in his grief and AshClan would be restored to it's former glory! But instead, he saw you catching that stupid chipmunk and thought you were worthy! Ha! Here's what I think of you, kittypet!" The she-cat raised her paw high in the air, claws outstretched, gleaming threateningly in the moonlight.

"Dapplefur, you're talking complete nonsense! Have you gone mad?" Nightfreeze meowed from behind.

Icewing didn't even have time to move. She yowled out as the thorn-sharp claws tore into her head, leaving deep cuts. Trying to push away the pain, she stood up straight and charged into Dapplefur, hitting her in the chest. They rolled on the ground, clawing and snapping at one another. Icewing sliced open her shoulder and battered her belly hard. Dapplefur leapt away, blood flying from her pelt. Icewing got to her feet, panting, as Dapplefur crouched a foxlength away. Crying out, the she-cat flew through the air straight at her. Icewing barely jumped aside. Dapplefur hit the ground with a dull thud. Raising her head, her mad eyes locking with Icewing's, she got up once more, licking her sharp teeth hungrily. Icewing felt a great weight land on top of her as Dapplefur pinned her down. Lifting her head, she let out a sharp caterwaul before opening her jaws wide and going straight for Icewing's throat. Icewing shut her eyes tight, not wanting her last sight to be the teeth of an enemy cat.

Suddenly, Dapplefur vanished as a great silvery shape flew into her, knocking her aside. Icewing looked up, and was astonished to see Longwhisker pinning his mother down. She struggled beneath him wildly, but he held on.

There was a sharp, pained mew and then silence. Dapplefur stopped thrashing, and lay still. As Longwhisker moved away, Icewing saw the blood trickling from her throat.

The last thing Icewing remembered before darkness covered her were the faces of two cats, their eyes wide and scared, staring down at her.

Chapter 7 Edit

Icewing hovered in and out of sleep. All she could gather from the brief moments she was awake were soft voices above and a strong scent of marigold.

Her eyes opened and she realized she was in the medicine cats den. It was dark and quiet, the only light came from outside.

"Hey, you're awake. That's good," came the soft voice of Bluepaw, Dapplefur's apprentice.

Wait, where is Dapplefur? We were fighting, then...

Suddenly she remembered Longwhisker's appearance, how he had thrown the she-cat away, and...

Icewing bolted upright. A searing pain shot through her as the scratches on her head stung. Bluepaw gently pushed her back down.

"Rest. Those are some nasty scratches," she mewed.

"But...Dapplefur.." Icewing protested, sitting up again, slowly this time.

Bluepaw's face appeared next to hers. Her gray eyes were tinged with sadness.

"So...Longwhisker did kill her?"

The apprentice nodded solemnly before turning away.

"I'm sorry, Bluepaw. I didn't mean for this to happen."

"It isn't your fault. This could've happened to any cat."

"How many days has it been since...since the fight?"

"Two."

Before Icewing could say anymore, angry yowls sounded outside. Ignoring Bluepaw's protests, Icewing immediately shot out of the den into camp. It was night, the stars in the sky shrouded by clouds. The only light came from the moon. Beneath the Skyrock, Icewing could see that all the warriors had gathered. Jaystar and Tawnyleaf sat on top. But in the middle of the cats, two were facing eachother, their teeth bared, ears pinned flat.

To her horror, she realized it was Longwhisker and Tigerwind.

"I can't believe you let her do something like this! What were you thinking?" the silvery tom snarled, unsheathing his claws.

"Oh, look who's talking! At least I didn't murder my own mother!" Tigerwind scoffed, unsheating his as well.

Longwhisker shot at Tigerwind, knocking him on his back. The tabby tom struggled beneath him.

Icewing felt shock and fear ripple through her pelt as she raced toward them. Leaping into Longwhisker, she pulled the tom away. Tigerwind got to his feet, shaking dirt from his fur. Looking up, he turned his furious gaze onto her, his eyes blazing.

"I didn't need your help!" he hissed. Behind her, Icewing heard Longwhisker let out a low growl.

Icewing recoiled at his voice. Was he angry with her too?

Tigerwind stormed up to her until their faces almost touched. His expression had turned from angered to pained as he stared into her eyes.

"I thought you loved me," he whispered. "I didn't know you would fall for a piece of foxdung like him."

Icewing's heart nearly shattered as she spoke.

"I'm sorry, Tigerwind..."

The tom turned away, his tail down.

"It's too late for that. You should have never met with that cat. It was-"

"That's quite enough!" Jaystar's yowl cut him off. Icewing whipped around to find her leader staring down at her.

"We will have time to settle arguments later! Right now, there is some confessions to be made! Icewing, come up here!"

She swallowed before leaping up onto Skyrock, fear shooting through her pelt. What was going to happen now? As she faced Jaystar, a sudden memory floated back in her mind. Dapplefur's face appeared, her fierce eyes sending a small chill down Icewing's spine.

"Jaystar, that mouse-brain, is your father!"

Icewing looked over at Jaystar.

"Father..." she whispered, careful that Tawnyleaf didn't hear.

His eyes lit up with shock.

"I'll explain later," he muttered.

Turning away from him, Icewing faced her Clan. They all stared up at her, some with disbelief, others with anger. She spotted Stormfang with a particularly smug look on his face.

"My Clanmates, I-I guess I have some explaining to do!" she cried nervously.

And so she proceeded to telling them about talking to Blizzardfoot at the Gathering, her meeting with Nightfreeze, her fight with Dapplefur and the she-cat's death. Once she had finished, there were small gasps and hushed whispers in the crowd. Jaystar approached from behind, his piercing gaze fixed on her.

"You did all of this alone?" he pressed.

Icewing shot a side glance at Tigerwind. HIs eyes were wide and pleading.

"Don't," he mouthed. She turned back to her leader.

"Yes."

"And you understood the risks you took?"

She nodded. Jaystar let out a long sigh.

"I don't know how much harm your actions brought, Icewing, but I can promise you there will be punishment. As for you, Longwhisker, your fate has already been decided."

Icewing held her breath, locking eyes with the silver tom. His gaze was fearful but still strong.

"You will leave AshClan tomorrow at dawn."

Icewing felt the ground lurch beneath her.

"No.." she started to protest, but Jaystar cut her off.

"Tawnyleaf and I will discuss your own punishment, Icewing. But before then, come and see me in my den. The rest of you go to your dens!"

Icewing followed him down Skyrock and into his den, afraid of what awaited her there.

Chapter 8 Edit

Icewing nervously sat in Jaystar's den. It was warm, dimly lit only by the light from the moon peering through a crack in the rock. Jaystar sat in front of her, his eyes piercing.

"How did you find out about...me?" he asked slowly.

"D-Dapplefur told me."

He paused for a moment, sighing, before continuing.

"Did she tell you anything more?"

"Yes, she told me how Redstripe took me to twolegplace and how she died in the snow with my siblings."

"I see. I suppose you'll want to hear the full story?"

Icewing nodded.

Jaystar took a deep breath. For the first time, she noticed how old and tired he looked. His eyes drooped, and his pelt was more ragged than she remembered. How many lives did he have left?

"Redstripe was my mate, of course, many moons ago. Right near the end of leaf-fall she told me she was expecting kits. So she moved into the nursery, and soon in early leafbare she had the kits. There were four of them: Flamekit, Poppykit, Streamkit, and...you. Your name was Icekit. That's why I chose it for your warrior name. Anyways, leafbare became harsher. Prey ran short. Redstripe refused the fresh-kill, insisting that we needed it more than she did. But she was wrong."

There was an uncomfortable silence. Icewing waited patiently for him to continue.

"Her milk ran out. The kits were starving. Sagewind, our medicine cat back then, gave her every herb in the forest that might help. I begged her to eat. She did, but it was too late. One night, probably the coldest, with the snow up to our haunches, Redstripe took the kits out and from what we found she must have been trying to take them, one at a time, to twolegplace. You were the only one. The other three we found buried in the snow. As for Redstripe...we found her near twolegplace. We thought you had died as well. I searched day and night. I couldn't eat or sleep. I had lost her...and you..."

Icewing rubbed against him, sadness ebbing away at her.

"I'm so sorry....father." The title sounded odd on her tongue. She had never known a father, or mother.

"Then, three moons ago, I was patrolling near twolegplace, near where we had found your mother. I looked through the fence, just a quick peek, and I saw you catch that chipmunk. I knew it had to be you. You had those fierce eyes and strong legs. I was so happy. I wanted to rush out and greet you, but I decided to consult Dapplefur first. She was against it. But, in the end, I sent Tigerwind to watch you. When he returned and talked of your great skills, I knew where you belonged. And here you are. A living memory of Redstipe herself." A purr rumbled in his throat.

Icewing shook her head.

"I'll never be a true warrior," she mewed sadly.

"Yes, you will. You've proven your loyalty to this Clan many times. I have faith in you, Icewing."

"I'm sorry..about Dapplefur. I never meant for her to be dead. I just...wanted to know the truth," she repeated the phrase again.

"I know. The truth can sometimes come at a heavy price. I know you didn't mean any harm, but harm has been done, and there are consequences."

Longwhisker entered Icewing's mind.

"Where will Longwhisker go?"

Jaystar didn't answer. He was staring at the floor, his eyes clouded with thought.

A voice outside interrupted them.

"Jaystar? May I come in?" It was Tawnyleaf.

Jaystar looked up. He nodded to Icewing.

"You can go now. Tell her to come in."

Icewing dipped her head and, turning, pushed through the willow curtain. Outside, she found Tawnyleaf waiting.

"You can go in now," Icewing told her, flicking her tail toward the entrance.

Tawnyleaf nodded and disappeared inside.

Icewing stood for a minute, staring at the ground. Raising her head, she look around the camp, and realized she was not alone. Beneath Skyrock, his tail down, was Longwhisker. Icewing padded over and sat beside him. He looked at her, his blue eyes shadowed with sorrow.

"Are you okay?" Icewing asked him, rubbing against his shoulder.

"Why in all of Silverpelt would I be okay right now?" he said, an edge of frustration in his voice.

"I know. I'm sorry, Longwhisker. I never wanted any of this to happen. I didn't want for you to get dragged in, or Dapplefur to find out, or any of that!"

He licked the top of her head.

"It's okay. I still have you, and that's all that matters right now."

"But...when you leave, our love will be against the warrior code! We can't do that! I've already broken enough of it!" she protested.

"Quiet, someone will hear you. Don't worry, we can keep it a secret."

Uneasiness pricked in Icewing's pelt. Would that work?

"Where are you going to go, anyway?" she mewed.

"I thought I would go back to MistClan. Where I was born. Go on, get some sleep. You're dead on your paws."

She nodded and, pressing her cheek against him one more time, turned and padded towards the warriors den. But before she went in, she looked back, and said:

"Meet me at the barrier entrance before sunrise. So I can...say goodbye."

He looked at her and nodded.

Icewing stared into his eyes for moment before entering the dark den and collapsing into her nest, grief and sorrow welling up inside her.

Before she fell asleep, she found a star.

Chapter 9 Edit

Icewing stood by the barrier, nervously waiting.

Where is he? There isn't much time! It'll be sunrise soon!

It was still dark out, but Icewing knew it wouldn't stay that way. The air was like icy claws on her spine. Leafbare wasn't far off.

And leafbare is what killed my mother. And my littermates. And nearly me, she thought with a little shiver.

Finally, a silvery cat pushed through the barrier. Longwhisker had come. She immediately rushed up to him and lay her head on his shoulder as he sat down. His warm fur soothed her as they sat.

"It's almost time," he reminded her. She didn't hear any sadness in his voice, but it sounded heavy.

"Don't say that. Right now, we should just focus on our time together."

He licked the top of her head and pushed closer against her.

"Even though we'll be in different Clans, we can still be together," he said firmly.

"I know but...I don't want to get in more trouble, Longwhisker."

"We won't. We can keep it a secret."

Icewing remembered thinking the same thing about meeting with the MistClan cats, and how wrong she had been. She pushed the memory aside. It had caused her enough sadness already.

The sun was rising now. Cracks of red and pink were visible.

Longwhisker rose to his paws now, his fur shining in the dim light.

"I'd...better be going," he said softly, half to himself.

Icewing stood next to him, looking at the forest ahead of them.

"Don't go! There's still time!"

But he shook his head.

"I'd rather go before the Clan wakes up. They'll make it worse than it already is," he mewed sadly.

He turned and faced her, locking his eyes with her own. Icewing felt sadness ebb as she stared at his face, not knowing when she would see it again.

"Goodbye, Icewing. I-I hope I see you soon." He leaned forward and licked her cheek once more. They touched noses.

"Goodbye, Longwhisker. I love you," Icewing whispered, rubbing against him one last time.

He turned and, pulling his gaze away, padded off into the forest, his silvery pelt slowly vanishing.

Icewing fell to the ground, choking on her grief and sadness. She could feel the suns warmth, but on the inside she felt as cold as snow.

He's gone now. I can't see him anymore. He's gone.

Footsteps approached. They stopped as the shadow of a cat loomed over her.

"Icewing? Have you seen Longwhisker?" It was Runningflight.

Slowly, she got to her paws and faced the sandy tom.

"He's...gone."

And she fell back, into the jaws of darkness, watching as they closed over her.

End of Book 2.

This story is continued in Silent as Snow.

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